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Creator of the international business Contiki Holidays


John Anderson was born in Wellington, educated at Scots College and Victoria University where he studied for an accounting degree. At the age of 22 he left New Zealand for the United Kingdom on a one year ‘Overseas Experience’. He returned some 20 years later with his wife Alison, four children and an international business - Contiki Holidays.

After a few months in London, John’s desire to see Europe was overwhelming but he had insufficient funds to achieve this. With just 25 pounds he found a way to not only see Europe, but start his own business. When John eventually sold the company it was and remains one of the world’s major tour operators. Contiki is now firmly established as an international ‘brand’ name - perhaps the only truly international brand name (apart from primary produce products) that has been solely created by a New Zealander. It is a household name in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada. It is estimated more than 1.6 million passengers have already travelled with Contiki.

Subsequently, as a member of the Auckland Rotary Club, John conceived the idea of a major fundraising opportunity. This became ‘The Ellerslie Flower Show’ which is now established as a major New Zealand event. John travelled to London and met the ‘Chelsea Flower Show’ organisation, who assisted him with the development of the New Zealand show.

In the January 2012 New Year’s Honours, John was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to tourism.

In John’s presentations he tells the incredible story of how he developed a simple idea into one of the world’s major tour operators. His determination to succeed, the belief in himself, his successes and failures. It is full of extremely funny and sad anecdotes that have a marked effect on the emotions of his audience.

John was brilliant. Very passionate and I could relate his passion to my own role. The importance of a well known brand is very valuable. He was the best speaker I have ever heard. Canon New Zealand Ltd

John is a great speaker. Sincere, passionate, humorous and inspirational. We loved him. He is a lovely person and great fun.

BP Oil NZ Ltd

Exceeded our expectations. Thought he was excellent, passionate, entertaining - overall - fantastic. Guys came away really thinking about his message.


John's delivery was sensational and he followed the brief he was given perfectly. He met and exceeded our expectations. Everyone was enthralled, especially because of his obvious passion and emotion. He inspired them.

United Travel

In the 10 years we have held Storage Box and Plastic Box conferences, there has never been a better speaker. John absolutely blew our storeowners away with his sincerity and determination. If anybody is looking for the best motivational speaker on the circuit, and has not heard John before, don’t even hesitate to book him.

Plastic Box

It was a presentation from the heart. There was a tear in most eyes; and a standing ovation is a rare thing in our company.

Harveys (NZ) Limited

"John was brilliant! All our attendees thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and took away a lot of messages they could apply on a daily basis to their jobs, their staff, in fact numerous times the following day John was quoted in the workshops that were held. His passion for ConTiki is amazing. He truly is an inspiration to everyone."

McConnell Dowell

"All the attendees found John’s story motivating, entertaining and relevant. They said he was an extremely focused and passionate speaker. His positivity and drive was infectious! He was fantastic with really good insights, lessons and challenging current thinking. Please pass on our sincere thanks to John."

Inland Revenue Conference

"John was without a doubt one of the speaker highlights of the conference. There are few brands that resonate so well with Australians and New Zealanders as Contiki, and to hear the story behind it was a treat for all involved (included three hardened conference managers who have seen their fair share of speakers)."

MCI Australia

"John's story was the most heart-felt story told out of all 3 speakers. Again he captured the audience, friendly, funny - 11/10"

New Zealand Financial Services Group

"John was a fantastic speaker. It was definitely one of the highlights of our conference. We many people come up and say how much they loved his story and what a great choice of speaker he was!!"

Health 2000
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